Here are common legal terms you will hear from your defense attorney as your case progresses:
- Arraignment – Also known as a DUI arraignment, or first court appearance. This is the first court date in your drunk driving case. The date, start time, and location of your arraignment will be printed on the traffic citations paperwork you received as you were released from jail. You DO NOT have to appear in person. We will enter a plea of not guilty to all charges on your behalf.
- Administrative License Suspension (ALS) – An ALS is a separate civil proceeding conducted by the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS). A DUI arrest notification is automatically sent to the DDS immediately after an arrest. This begins the process of suspending your Georgia driver’s license for up to 12 months only 31 days after your arrest. We only have 30 days to appeal this automatic suspension by filing an appeal letter with the DDS. This letter and a state-mandated $150 filing fee has to be received by the DDS within 30 calendar days of an arrest. This is also known as a DUI 30-day letter.
- Aggravated DUI – Most Georgia DUIs are classified as a misdemeanor when there is no personal injury, property loss, or death as a result of driving impaired. The charges change to felony DUI when a defendant has multiple DUIs within a specified time frame, even if none of the above circumstances occurred. A third type of charge is an aggravated misdemeanor, or a high and aggravated misdemeanor. This charge is filed when a person faces a third Georgia DUI offense, or if a first or second DUI involves evading police, hit and run, or excessive speeding. Every DUI case is different, and each requires a knowledgeable Georgia DUI lawyer who knows how to fight every type of impaired driving charge.
- Bail Bond – A bail bond or surety bond is a way to get out of jail faster than if you had to pay the entire bail amount. When you are arrested, a bail amount is set by a judge based on how severe the charges are. Felony DUI bail is much higher. Bail bond companies will take the risk of a person not showing up for court in return for a 12% – 15% percentage of the bond. If a person fails to appear, the bonding company will send out a “bounty hunter” to arrest you.
- Bench Trial – A bench trial is different than a jury trial. In a bench trial only a judge will hear your case and decide your guilt or innocence. Municipal courts only hold bench trials.
- Court of Jurisdiction – Your court case will typically begin in a Georgia municipal court if your arrest occurred within the city limits of Atlanta, Marietta, Kennesaw, Alpharetta, Smyrna, Roswell, or any other North Georgia municipality. These courts accept initial pleas and conduct bench trials, but do not conduct jury trials. If you elect to have a jury trial, your case will be bound over (moved) to a State Court or Superior Court.
- DUI Drugs – a DUI Drugs charge will be filed if a driver was impaired by illegal drugs or prescription medications. Since there is no roadside breath test for the presence of drugs in your system, a blood test at a local medical facility may be ordered. Even if a police officer cannot obtain a chemical test, you can still be arrested if the officer smells marijuana or sees drugs in your car, and makes the determination that you are too impaired to safely drive.
- Failure To Appear – Also known as FTA, this means that if you fail to show up for your appointed court date, and your presence was required by law, you will be charged with Failure To Appear and a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Our expert legal staff will notify you in advance of any court dates coming up, and whether or not you are legally required to attend. Most court dates can be covered by one of our Georgia DUI attorneys, including the arraignment, motions hearings, and calendar calls. You must appear during your trial, or at the court date where you enter a final plea (plea date).